Does swishing a tail keep the flies away?
ABiting insects are a pest to humans and animals alike – a domestic cow can lose up to a third of a litre of blood a day to these tiny assailants. Like many other large mammals, cows attempt to limit the damage by swishing their tails at the attackers.
Until recently, it wasn’t entirely clear exactly how this strategy helps. After all, few tails are long enough to administer
full-body coverage. But recent research on species including zebras, giraffes, elephants and horses has revealed that a swishing tail functions as a fan rather than a swat, generating a breeze that is about as fast as the flight-speed of a mosquito. That’s enough to prevent about 50 per cent of biting insects from landing and sinking in those mouthparts.
If bitey bugs are a nuisance, flap, don't swat.